I know this doesn’t sound very conservative, [but] we have to take care of everybody, not just the people [at the top]. We’ve got to take care of everybody. Get used to it, conservatives. I love you, conservatives, but get used to it. Let’s take care of everybody, please… we can do it. You get rid of state lines [for insurance purposes], you have great care for much less money, the country will spend much less, and we will take care of those people who can’t do it. We have to. We have to. We have to. (Donald Trump, Phoenix, Arizona, July 11, 2015)
Andrew C. McCarthy is right when he says that President Trump’s recent Executive Order faithfully executes the so-called Affordable Care Act. Take note, however, that the title of his National Review article about the E.O. (Trump Faithfully Executes Obamacare…) plays with the meaning of the word “execute” in a way substantiated by its logical analysis. That analysis soundly rebuts the notion that President Trump has in any sense simply repeated Obama’s anti-Constitutional abuse of executive power. However, it also supports the conclusion that the E.O.’s intended changes in Federal health insurance regulatory policy are likely to put Obamacare’s state exchanges on the path to extinction.
In the so-called Affordable Care Act, Congress authorized subsidies for people using the state exchanges. But it consistently failed to appropriate money to fund the subsidies. Obama cavalierly disbursed government funds without warrant of any law duly passed by Congress. As McCarthy notes, Obama’s actions “are and always have been illegal…. Under the Constitution no funds may be paid out of the treasury unless they have been appropriated by Congress.”
President Trump’s Executive Order simply turns off the spigot for Obama’s unconstitutional disbursements. As another commentator notes, President Trump “repeatedly criticized Obama’s reliance on executive orders.” The E.O. issued is entirely consistent with those criticisms.
People concerned to restore respect for the Constitution’s provisions are right to stand to and applaud. The E.O. fulfills their hope that Donald Trump will restore respect for the Constitution’s provisions, mostly neglected or defied by all three branches of the US government for more than a generation. Moreover, the shift in regulatory policy simply aims to make judgments, required by existing law. But instead of seeking to restrict and dictate health insurance coverage, the aim will be to encourage insurers to offer a variety of choices, so that consumers can more easily tailor their insurance purchases to their circumstances, priorities and income.
This appears to move in the direction of restoring private sector initiative and responsibility as the foundation for health insurance. It appears to be a turn away from the march toward government domination of the health care sector. But how does it address the promise to take care of everyone that Donald Trump has repeatedly reiterated? If, in fact, the E.O. will encourage insurers and income earners to abandon the already troubled state exchanges, what will become of the people who cannot afford insurance without the government subsidies promised to fund their participation in those exchanges?
It’s not possible to take care of everyone, including those who simply cannot afford the health insurance they need, without addressing this question. What sense does it make to see Donald Trump carefully fulfilling his promise to halt Obama’s anti-constitutional way of doing so, and yet believe that he will not work to follow-up his view that it’s necessary to “take care of everybody”—a view he emphasized with full knowledge that it runs counter to the strongly held views many of his conservative constituents?
As I’ve observed before, when it comes to providing health care for all, Donald Trump is a socialist: an admirer of the government-funded universal health care systems in places like Canada and the UK. He saw only one obstacle to advancing such socialism—the importance existence of the States under our Constitution. But if Obamacare’s pretended effort to accommodate that sovereignty is clearly seen to fail (which his recent E.O. may hasten), a hue and cry will ensue, demanding that something be done to fulfill his promise to take care of everyone,
He has already framed his E.O. in a way that casts him as the goad, chastising Congress for its failure to do the needful, and demanding action to rescue the falsely contrived promise of Obamacare. Is President Trump counting on the fact that, with his conservative constituents focused on the freedom of choice promised by his Administration’s regulatory approach, he will have leeway to negotiate a deal with the Democrats and RINOs that entrenches the seeds of pseudo-federalized socialism Obamacare’s state exchanges planted in all fifty states?
Many of Trump’s self-professed constituents may be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his role in thus advancing the socialist agenda. Like Nixon’s opening to China back in the day, Trump may be just the person required to push this opening to socialism across the goal line. After all, will it be so awful to give socialism a try when it comes to helping those who will otherwise be deprived of the health services they need? Isn’t some form of government controlled socialism for the needy masses as inevitable as it was for the aged?
If it is inevitable, so is the end of government of, by and for the people of the United States; so is the triumph of oligarchic privilege and unchecked oligarchic rule. Once some socialist mechanism is declared to be successfully functioning, the other shoe will drop—the one that has, for decades, driven the push for government to take over health care for the masses. Just as self-serving employers have exploited illegal immigrants as labor, and then made shift to dump them onto the government welfare state when their use was at an end, so the same suspects will fulfill their desire to shift the cost of health care for the masses out of their corporate budgets.
That has all along been their aim. President Trump’s Administration is poised to open the path to achieving it, with the acquiescence of purportedly conservative voters who won’t know that they’ve been had, until it’s too late. Yet President Trump’s faithful execution of Obama’s subsidies, by E.O., should focus their attention on the fact that what is done by executive edict can just as easily be undone by some future edict. Meanwhile, legislation that’s passed entrenching the seeds of pseudo-federalized socialism won’t be easily undone. If it appears to be successfully, it will lure many voters, particularly in our urban areas, into permanent dependency on the national government, in order to gain access to health services that are literally a matter of life and death.
Another, more fundamental fact will also contribute to this outcome. When it comes to helping those who cannot help themselves, is there really any alternative to government rule? This question can only be answered with good faith. But America’s good faith is precisely what we are presently discarding. Can it be revived? Is this revival the way to make sure all people are cared for, without the need to embark on the treacherous path of socialism, so threatening to our liberty as a people? My column this week for WND will ponder these questions. Look for it here this weekend.
Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.